Pa. medical marijuana program to balloon, add research

Many Californians Are Shut Out Despite Marijuana Legalization

Pa. medical marijuana program to balloon, add research

When then-Gov. Chris Christie reluctantly agreed to make medical marijuana legal in New Jersey, he made sure it wouldn't be easy to obtain, even if the doctor ordered it.

Collins said two of 12 currently approved growers are now shipping product and more should be in April. But with public support for medical marijuana soaring among Americans, officials have chosen not to enforce the ban as it pertains to medical marijuana.

More than 25,000 patients have registered for the state program and more than 6,000 patients have purchased medical marijuana from dispensaries. It couldn't be smoked, as Pennsylvania law doesn't permit smoking of medical marijuana.

More than 25,000 residents have registered for medical marijuana, and 9,020 of them have been certified by one of 473 physicians approved to participate in the program, said Hutcheson, with the Department of Health.

Every clinical registrant could provide medical marijuana at up to six locations, or 48 in all.

Medical marijuana may only be grown, harvested, stored and processed indoors in Pennsylvania.

A subcommittee of the state Medical Marijuana Advisory Board earlier this month recommended the health department to allow the sale of dried marijuana leaf and flower.

"The best medicine will be made the most hard to obtain by limiting the sales", Peter Murphy, regulated substances attorney at Eckert Seamans, says.

Medical marijuana products available to patients are displayed February 16, 2018, at Organic Remedies Dispensary in Hampden Township, just west of Harrisburg.

Diana Briggs, 47, of Washington Township in Westmoreland County received a medical marijuana caregiver card to administer a cannabis oil and capsule medication that helps reduce the number of seizures her son, Ryan suffers daily. The state has approved almost 500 medical practitioners to certify patients.

In the programs first round, the state issued permits for 12 grower processors and 27 dispensaries.

Applicants who received grower/processor permits a year ago are not eligible for additional permits, but an individual dispensary company is eligible for a maximum five permits, or 15 separate storefronts.

A clinical registrant must pay both the grower/processor and dispensary fees.

The health department also gave more details Thursday on its upcoming medical marijuana clinical research program. The nonrefundable dispensary application fee is $5,000, with the permit costing $30,000 for one year and a $5,000 renewal fee.

And there will be as many as 150 commercial retail outlets selling it to patients. It will begin accepting applications next month with deadlines in May. The state is expected to approve eight registrants, all of whom must have at least $15 million in capital.

Per the regulations, medical staff from partner schools will lend expertise and resources to ensure that those registrants are performing the highest-quality research into medical marijuana. "If a doctor believes medical marijuana can be an effective treatment, then they should be able to prescribe it to their patients".

Under the bill, doctors would not be required to enroll in a physician registry as a condition of authorizing qualifying patients for medical marijuana.

"I'm so proud of how quickly our program has been implemented by the department of health", Briggs said.

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